It was like something out of a quintessential Riviera movie. With the sun setting over the sea, hundreds of Chanel's invited guests sitting in the red wooden chairs of Saint-Tropez's famous Sénéquier, and many more onlookers piling onto balconies and pressing against barricades, Natasha Poly, Anja Rubik, and the rest of Karl Lagerfeld's cast arrived at Quai Jean Jaurès via speedboat. And like the carefree starlets and jet-setters they were channeling, the models traipsed down the street-cum-runway often barefoot, wearing seventies-ish diaphanous caftans, long crocheted dresses, ruffle-lapelled silk jersey trouser suits, and patchwork denim skirts. Tanned and toned midriffs peeked out beneath a cropped sweater here or a button-down there, its hems tied in a saucy bow.
Some of the pieces, like Freja Beha Erichsen's white silk Mick Jagger tuxedo, were making repeat performances, having appeared in Remember Now, the Lagerfeld-directed short film that screened at the Cinéma de la Renaissance the night before. The Stones front man, of course, married Bianca in just such an outfit in Saint-Tropez's town hall back in 1971. Magdalena Frackowiak, doing a spot-on Brigitte Bardot shimmy, danced her way toward the photo pit in a black and white checked maillot. And for the finale, there was Georgia May Jagger, with her dad's tune "Let's Spend the Night Together" for an accompaniment. A dead ringer for Bardot circa And God Created Woman if there ever was one, the pouty-lipped model got to take a spin in a beaded minidress and thigh-high boots on the back of a tricked-out Harley.
To be sure, there was a nostalgic mood to the affair. (Cue the sly plot of Remember Now, in which the French actor Pascal Greggory stars as a veteran playboy encountering today's jeunesse dorée en route to a seventies costume party or singing along to a record by sixties icon Sacha Distel.) What prompted these witty nods to the past from a designer who famously has no patience for such fusty concepts as the "good old days"? The location surely had something to do with it. Recent Chanel shows have been set in Venice and Shanghai, both of which were influential in one way or another to Coco herself. And though Lagerfeld pointed out that "Chanel was spotted here once in '34 by Colette," Saint-Tropez feels much more like Karl's kind of town. "I spent many years of my life here," he said. "I know Saint-Tropez like I know Paris. The collection is very casual, very down-to-earth." Key, of course, is that lightness of touch, the sense of enjoyment and ease. And with fashion once again experiencing a 1970's revival, the show also ended up feeling—as Lagerfeld's Chanel outings often do—very much of the moment.
The trio of cropped bouclé tweed jackets, bikini tops, and belted high-waisted brown denim flares could've gone straight from the catwalk to the after-party (at least, if there'd been less chill in the air). Post-show at the VIP Room dinner, Lagerfeld was flanked by Vanessa Paradis, Diane Kruger, Anna Mouglalis, and Elisa Sednaoui, each one more gorgeous and glamorous than the next. Who says things were better back when? Tonight's scene was enough to make Roger Vadim and Mick Jagger both very jealous indeed.